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Weekends With Alex Witt

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Us 23, Nelson Mandela 19, Washington 14, Victoza 11, South Africa 10, America 10, Alex 9, U.s. 9, Boston 8, Virginia 7, Philadelphia 7, China 7, Iran 7, Detroit 6, New York 6, Michelle 5, Kristen Welker 4, David Dinkins 4, Alex Witt 4, Aaron 4,
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  MSNBC    Weekends With Alex Witt    News; News/Business. New.  

    December 8, 2013
    9:00 - 11:01am PST  

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find, and what did president obama say that may have surprised some? saving a city. on tuesday, detroit will move one more step toward bankruptcy. what price should the city pay to get rid of its massive debt? they're known as weapons of war, but why do some people say drone deliveries could prove to be a danger of all of us as well? hey there, everyone. welcome. it's high noon here in the east, 9:00 a.m. out west. we welcome you to "weekends with alex witt." we begin with the deadly winter storm gripping much of the nation. a second arctic blast is making its way across the country. snow it already falling in the nation's capital. we have a picture there of the white house. certainly beautiful, but it can be a mess. along with the snow and freezing rain, millions are bracing for more power outages and more dangerous driving conditions.
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>> i've only seen it worse once than this in my life. i've been driving for 37 years. >> you try to change lanes and you're going sideways. >> well, hundreds of storm-related accidents have been reported since friday. some people are making the best of the situation. look at this woman. she's from indiana. fun aside, though, this storm remains very serious. so where is it going to be at its worst? let's go to the weather channel's dr. greg postel. >> thanks, alex. we're dealing with a wide variety of winter weather across the northeast today. it's going to be transitioning from snow to sleet to freezing rain and then over to rain. let's have a look at the forecast and show you how it all times out. beginning at about 2:00 this afternoon, you can see a burst of snow moving northeast from maryland into new jersey. by 7:00 tonight, should be snowing in new york. perhaps philly will be on the border between snow and freezing rain and sleet. that would be the pink shade. d.c. likely by then will be over to sleet and freezing rain and
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maybe even all rain later on tonight. as we move this forward through the early morning hours, say about 6:00 in the morning, there's good news here. we're going to see some warmer air work its way back into the picture, and that means that the i-95 corridor likely from d.c., trenton, philly, new york, all the way up through southern new england should be rain, wet, not icy or snow covered. so that's good news. if you can just delay a little bit your travel plans in the morning, i think it will be a lot safer. as we move forward through the morning hours, you can see this winter storm continues to move off toward the northeast and bring heavy amounts of snow into the adirondacks and the mountains of western maine. boston, by 2:00 in the afternoon tomorrow, should be rain. here are the impacts as we roll through them. this is essentially what it looks like. it transitions all the way from snow to rain as we move through the afternoon, tonight, and tomorrow. this is how it's all going to end up, i think, by tomorrow. there's the rain for us. the wintry mix and the snow
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confined to northern new england. back to you. >> okay, dr. greg postel. thanks so much for that. well, the snow is piling up in the nation's capital at this hour. let's go to nbc's kristen welker. how bad is it going to get there, and could this affect the president's plans today? >> well, alex, we're expected to get about 1 to 2 inches. the snow just starting to stick here at the white house. it certainly does look beautiful. president obama actually has a pretty packed day for a sunday. that's because the kennedy center honors are tonight. but alex, the show must go on. at this point, no plans to interrupt that because of the weather. the president and first lady are going to hold a reception here at the white house a little bit later on this evening for some of those award recipients, including billy joel, carlos santana as well as shirley mcclain. big names expected here despite the snow. of course, the broader message is if you don't have to go out in this weather, don't go out. because it is starting to come
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down. of course, some of this snow could turn into freezing rain a little bit later on today. alex? >> okay. all of our big elected names are expected back in town now. the house and the senate back on the roll call tomorrow. so what are the key issues of the many that they're expected to take up before adjourning for the year? >> well, alex, it's interesting. i don't want to sound too optimistic here, but all signs are pointing to the fact that they might actually get a deal on the budget. that deal might include scaling back some of those sequester cuts, finding a little bit of deficit reduction. here's the key thing to focus on, though, right now, alex. the tone. there doesn't seem to be an appetite for another government shutdown. that, of course, bodes well for the economy and washington in general. take a listen to what two lawmakers had to say earlier today. >> keep the budget caps in place, not raise taxes, which is important during this weak economy, and actually avoid a government shutdown. so i'm hopeful that even by the end of this week we'll be able to come together and achieve
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that. >> i certainly hope as part of it that the negotiators will take to heart what the president had to say. there are working families across america that are struggling. there are unemployed families who need a helping hand. we've got to protect and preserve the safety net in america and give these working families a fighting chance. >> so alex, of course there you have republican rob portman, democrat dick durbin. and you heard senator durbin talking about unemployment insurance. that is still the main sticking point. democrats, the president want unemployment insurance extended for 1.3 million americans. that's expected to expire at the end of the year. they say if that's not continued, it would be bad for those workers and also bad for the economy. republicans say look at these latest job figures. they're an indication that we don't need more stimulus spending. but the key there, alex, is that democrats are not demanding that be a part of a budget deal. so that likely won't derail these budget talks. it's possible that we won't have a crisis situation here in
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washington for the first time in several years. alex? >> okay. listen, you're hopeful, so i'm going to be hopeful. thank you very much, kristen welker. new today, reaction from key lawmakers following reports from state tv in iran that u.n. nuclear inspectors have started their visit to the iraq heavy water plant. inspectors were allowed in as part of the deal reached last month. >> what i'm concerned about is that we have not dismantled their program and yet relieved the sanctions. >> what i think the administration needs to push for in this negotiation is a peaceful program without enrichment. and i wouldn't begin the process by conceding anything on enrichment. >> president obama says he believes chances for comprehensive nuclear agreement with iran are 50/50 at best. >> but what i've consistently said is even as i don't take any options off the table, what we
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do have to test is the y at we can resolve this issue diplomatically. >> and the president made those comments while participating in a think tank panel on saturday. now to the incredible outpouring of emotion and worship in south africa today. millions of people, regardless of their race, color, or religion, unified in prayer, song, and remembrance in honor of nelson mandela. today's national day of prayer and reflection marks the beginning of a week-long program of mourning in his memory. let's go right now to nbc's michelle koh zin ski, who's in the middle of it all. michelle, a good evening your time. what are we seeing? >> reporter: hi, alex. right here this was a fence lined with some flowers outside the mandela property. now it has become several large hills full of flowers lined with people. you can imagine in churches around the world today mandela was mentioned. here today people were basically encouraged to do their own thing, to reflect on the melgszage of this champion of freedom. but in enormous numbers, people
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felt much better gathering together, includingmembers of mandela's family. it had the feeling of a sunday revival. here a few hundred gathered in a tent at mandela's offices, anything but quietly reflective, full of joy. >> we don't mourn quiet. we need to celebrate. we need to celebrate his life. >> reporter: the gospel choir that performed so many times for mandela in life, felt his loss. >> he will come and be telling us to feel at ease, how much he loves us. >> reporter: there were many services today that winnie mandela and the south african president attended. one of mandela's closest friends and advisers. last time they met, they held
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hands in the hospital. >> i left from him knowing he won't be long with us. >> reporter: the national grief made lighter day by day in celebration of that powerful legacy. the scene out here today has been absolutely jubilant. more people than we've seen so far. even though it's dark, it's been raining, they just keep coming. these gatherings have been happening all over the place. down in cape town this morning, in fact, some of those hard-core surfers down there made a big circle in the water, sitting on their board, and joined hands in tribute. one of them described it in one word, goosebumps. alex? >> oh, i love that story. that is great. may i ask you, michelle, about -- there's the memorial service and the funeral. the memorial service is tuesday. that is the one where you're going to have world leaders and potentially the largest gathering of world leaders in modern history, correct? so all the preparations for that, they've got to be huge. >> reporter: yeah, enormous. and they're not letting us into
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too many details of what it's going to be about. but you know it has to be on the scale befitting this outpouring that extends well beyond johannesburg. it's going to be in a stadium that seats some 94,000 people. that was the scene of the world cup back in 2010. that was the last time mandela made a public appearance. he got this enormous ovation really. it was just this thundering hello and good-bye, since many people didn't really know at the time that would be the last time they would see him out. so this is going to be something enormous. then on the 15th will be the state funeral in his remote hometown. it's really unclear how many world leaders will attend that as well. we know the white house hasn't given out all the details yet, but it's possible that president and mrs. obama will be there too. alex? >> okay, michelle kosinski. thank you. the program that one member of congress called this morning the jetsons come to life.
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so what is that, that resembles a cartoon? and the cast of "anchorman 2" join up with one direction. they sing one of the most maligned, perhaps unfairly songs of the '70s on "saturday night live." [ coughs, sneezes ]
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most of america's energy comes from right here at home. take the energy quiz. energy lives here.
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it is in america's national security interests, not just israel's national security interests or the region's national security interests, to prevent iran from getting a nuclear weapon. >> and that was the president speaking at a think tank this weekend about the deal preventing iran from advancing its nuclear program for six months. new today, iranian state television reports atomic experts representing the u.n. nuclear watchdog have begun their visit to a heavy water production plant as part of last month's deal. joining me now, political
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reporter for "the washington pos post", aaron blake, and chief investigative reporter for politico, vogel. aaron, what did the president reveal? what struck you the most? >> i thought it was most interesting when he said that the deal that they're working on right now has no better chance than 50/50 right now. you know, i think any time you're doing something like this, it's very important to set expectations. the white house has said for a long time that this is a very difficult thing to do. diplomacy has not succeeded so far. the idea it will suddenly work and the u.s. will get everything it wants is far fetched, is the case they've been making. the fact he put a number on it, i thought was really interesting. they really want to set expectations and make sure that people understand that if this falls apart, it's not necessarily because they did anything wrong. it's just a very difficult situation. >> yeah, you know, ken, we broadcast this live yesterday on
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my show. as i was listening, i took away this as the most provocative moment. take a listen here. >> with best intentions in all efforts, president reagan vowed that pakistan would not go nuclear. didn't happen. with best intentions and all efforts, president clinton vowed that north korea won't go nuclear. why is this nuclear deal different than any other nuclear deal? >> well, we don't know yet. we don't know yet. >> an honest answer there, but is there any real good answer for that question or did the president nail it? >> i think the president did nail it. it's not very satisfying for folks on either side of this issue. there's a lot of ambiguity. it allows both sides to claim some semblance of victory without any real hard and vast terms here. it's better to think of this as a framework. the president yesterday also said that he thought that as a practical matter, if the deal
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were to be nailed down and finalized, that it would prevent iran from having the, quote, breakout ability to go and enrich uranium to the point where they would have nuclear bomb capability. however, right after the geneva talks, you heard rouhani from iran say that he thought that what this deal, what this framework did was recognize in the eyes of the world and the international community that iran does have the right to have a nuclear enrichment. so you see rather a disconnect here, and i think it's emblematic of the looseness of this framework and shows just how far we still have to go to really nail it down. >> yeah, but i have to say i did appreciate the president's candor there. he wasn't pulling any political punches. he called it as he saw it. aaron, both the senate and the house, they're coming back tomorrow to work on their laundry list of items that includes the budget, the farm bill, food stamps, a slew of presidential nominations,
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unemployment benefits. is it too hopeful, aaron, to assume something is going to get done on any of these considering congress' track record? >> well, you know, i don't think all of them are going to get done, certainly. i think there are two major barriers right now to congress getting much done, especially the senate getting much done. one is these nominations. obviously, we had the nuclear option that was done before thanksgiving. the senate's coming back in session for the first time since then. republicans cannot stop these nominees, but they can gum up the works for a while and really, you know, force this to take a long time. i think they may do that as a symbolic measure. the other is this unemployment insurance. democrats feel very strongly about it. republicans are not willing to go there as far as extending long-term unemployment. this is just an issue on which i can see a very partisan battle e rup -- erupting. democrats are going to say republicans are not being decent human beings in this ross. republicans are going to hold
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firm and say it's time for no more government stimulus. watch how those two issues play out. >> what do you think, ken? the lawmakers have until january 15th to reach a budget deal or risk another government shutdown. how likely do you think it is progress is made on that issue before congress adjourns, and what are the sticking points? >> i'm not super optimistic looking back over the recent history here. those two things aaron mentioned, certainly unemployment insurance, could be a major poison pill that could make it difficult for republicans who have already shown an unwillingness to budge on spending to agree to anything that this budget conference between senator patty murray and the house budget chair paul ryan agree to. they're said to be very close. so maybe there's some reason for optimism, but it's them. it's the leadership.
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we heard some sound bites from senate leaders saying that they were -- felt they were pretty close to a deal. well, wait until it gets in the house and wait until the so-called tea party members of the house have to vote on it. if the spending level is anything above that $967 billion that is the sequester level spending, which appears likely it will be in the murray/ryan deal, then i think it's going to be tough to find a whole lot of tea party members who are going to be willing to support it. it's going to have to be a bipartisan deal like we saw with the continuing resolution. i'm not super optimistic. >> but you're teeing this up perfectly for me. you're talking about the tea party members. congress has gotten so much criticism for not getting enough done. here's what the president said about that on "hardball" with chris matthews thursday. >> i think there are a bunch of republicans who want to get stuff done. they've got to be embarrassed. the truth of the matter is that they've now been in charge of the house of representatives, one branch -- or one chamber in
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one branch of government for a couple years now. they don't have a lot to show for it. >> what do you make of the president's comments, aaron? >> i'm not sure that republicans are necessarily embarrassed about what's going on. i think they recognize they have one chamber out of the three pieces of this process. i know that, for instance, their base is much more interested in their ability to kind of stop the democrats from doing what they want to do. i don't think their base expects the republican-controlled house to control the agenda in washington necessarily. so, you know, i don't know if embarrassed is the right word given that they're not really in a position to drive the policy, but you know, this is certainly kind of an interesting new tact from the president basically trying to say that republicans should be -- you know, should have more to show for their power in washington. >> how about your take on all this, ken? >> i think that's a little -- it was a little disingenuous to suggest that republicans should be embarrassed because they control the majority in one
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branch of congress in one of the three branches of government. really, their role is that of an opposition party. so to some extent, they are, as aaron said, giving their base what they want. on the other hand, i do think that there are republican leaders in congress as well as republican donors and folks who will play a significant role in the 2014 midterm elections who are a little bit embarrassed, not necessarily that republicans are being blamed for gumming up the works and shutting down the government, but rather that the republican leaders are unable to enforce any discipline over their conferences so that they do end up kind of looking a little impotent. i think we're going to see this really play out in the 2014 republican primaries where you're going to see tea party candidates challenging establishment incumbents and vice versa. we'll have a chance to see this interneszing battle really play out at the ballot box in a way that maybe we will have more
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clarity. >> we shall see. ken vogel, aaron blake, we'll see you again. thanks so much. here's a programming note. msnbc will be reairing chris matthews' interview with president obama. chris is going to ask the president about 2016, health care, and the nsa. you can watch the "hardball" special today at 3:00 eastern here on msnbc. it's not a political storm they're battling in d.c. we'll get an update on all the snow, sleet, and ice that's threatening large parts of the atlantic coast today and tomorrow. and in number ones, where is the happiest place to work? that's giving it away right there. stick around. we'll be right back. and we'll replace stolen or destroyed items with brand-new versions. we put members first. join the nation. ♪ nationwide is on your side ♪ i'm bethand i'm michelle. and we own the paper cottage. it's a stationery and gifts store. anything we purchase for the paper cottage goes on our ink card. so you can manage your business expenses and access them online instantly with the game changing app from ink.
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victoza® has not been studied with mealtime insulin. victoza® is not insulin. do not take victoza® if you have a personal or family history of medullary thyroid cancer, multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2, or if you are allergic to victoza® or any of its ingredients. symptoms of a serious allergic reaction may include: swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat, fainting or dizziness, very rapid heartbeat, problems breathing or swallowing, severe rash or itching. tell your doctor if you get a lump or swelling in your neck. serious side effects may happen in people who take victoza®, including inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), which may be fatal. stop taking victoza® and call your doctor right away if you have signs of pancreatitis, such as severe pain that will not go away in your abdomen or from your abdomen to your back, with or without vomiting. tell your doctor about all the medicines you take and if you have any medical conditions. taking victoza® with a sulfonylurea or insulin may cause low blood sugar. the most common side effects
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are nausea, diarrhea, and headache. some side effects can lead to dehydration, which may cause kidney problems. if your pill isn't giving you the control you need ask your doctor about non-insulin victoza®. it's covered by most health plans. in south africa right now, a national day of prayer and reflection is underway in memory of nelson mandela. stateside, a yuounger generatio of american civil rights leaders is reflecting on the legacy of the man and how he inspired them. one of them downing me now from washington, d.c. former president and ceo of the naacp, ben jellis. i'd like to know when nelson
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mandela first got on your radar. what was the first context in which you learned about him and when you first saw him in person. >> you know, the first conversation was with my mom explaining to me why we couldn't drink coke and we couldn't get gas from the shell station and really talking about how similar the struggle that was happening then in south africa was to what she had gone through as a young person in this country. the first time i saw him was he was doing a tour when he got out of prison. it was 1989. he came to the coliseum in the east bay. i and tens of thousands of people were all gathered there. i recall pushing my way up to the front. you know, for us, we were used to having black leaders assassinated in their prime and spending the rest of our lives wondering what could have been, what would have been. and with him, he was somebody who showed us that not only could you survive anything, you could thrive after anything.
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we found ourselves marveling at what the possibilities would be but also fearing we may not get to see him. that's why the celebrations across the world are so spirited. because for once we have a great black leader, yes, of his country and of the world, where we got to see the full life. he lived a long life, and we know what could have been and it was great. >> and ben, what kind of an affect do you think he had on you and your generation of civil rights leaders? >> he taught us that struggle was noble. he affirmed for us that serving people is the highest thing that you can aspire to. he showed us that the struggle was ongoing. when you saw young people in the early '90s, for instance, rise up to fight brutality, like we saw in the rodney king case. what was often going on, you know, was people talking about
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south africa, talking about what tactics had been used here in the struggle to force companies to divest. there is a continuity. there's a call and response that's gone on for generations between activists in south africa and activists here. and he really put out a call to the world for people to continue that great struggle for inclusion and equality and universal human rights. >> ben, if you're pressed to name the thing you admire the most about him, what comes to mind first? >> that in 1962 when he was convicted, he stood up and said, i would do it all again. that any man who dares himself to call himself a man would have done what i did. he showed us that in some context the most noble thing you can do is defend yourself and defend your people. and then he transformed -- really, he stayed the same. but what was happening in his country transformed.
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he rose again to the next challenge, which was to declare his absolute conviction for peace and for unity and for resisting the urge to engage an eye for an eye. both when he was practicing self-defense and united his country and encouraging people not to seek vengeance, he showed us the absolute power that one man can have in inspiring the best from the rest of us. >> are you confident that will get translated to today's youth, to the next generation of leaders, or do you worry that might get lost? >> no, look, i think there's a lot of folks who are spending a lot of time talking to young people right now about the fullness of mandela's life. and we're blessed that there's a film coming out that will rel let folks see the fullness of
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this man. >> you're talking about "long walk freedom"? >> yes. >> great film. >> it's a fabulous film. in fact, i've been told that when he saw it, that mandela asked, you know, how did they have this footage of me? so i think that's what i'm most pleased with. people really are taking the time. it's important to talk to our young people. more than anything, mandela was to the world a great spirit of -- you know a great spirit that had the world's fight at the heart of it and this conviction that we all not only deserved better, that we all could do better. by talking to our young people, we inspired them to carry that spirit forward. >> yeah. hey, real quick, ben. we've so enjoyed talking with you, as you've been the president of the naacp. but what's next for you? >> well, i'm starting a pack and
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going to a think tank. i'm spending a whole lot more time with my kids. and i'm also going to be on about a 20-college speaking tour this spring. >> okay. well, that's enough to ensure we'll still be talking with you. thank you, ben jealous. >> thank you, alex. >> everyone, lots of weather around this country. that's a live look right now at what's going down in washington, or coming down in washington. more updates about the weather across the country after a break. my name is lee kaufman. married to morty kaufman. [ lee ] now that i'm getting older some things are harder to do. this is not a safe thing to do.
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be careful babe. there should be some way to make it easier [ doorbell rings ] let's open it up and see what's cookin'. oh i like that. look at this it's got a handle on it. i don't have to climb up. this yellow part up here really catches a lot of the dust. did you notice how clean it looks? morty are you listening? morty? [ morty ] i'm listening! i want you to know
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morty are you listening? morty? ♪
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♪ nothing says, "you're my #1 copilot," like a milk-bone biscuit. ♪ say it with milk-bone. welcome back to "weekends with alex witt." headlines at 35 past. an investigation underway after a 16-year-old boy died on a delta airlines flight from seattle to atlanta. it happened saturday shortly after take-off. the plane was diverted to spokane. the teenager's family was headed to atlanta on a family trip. a florida man is under arrest after police say he left his infant daughter locked in a car while he went to a strip club in ft. myers. a security guard found the 4-month-old baby inside that car late friday, notified police. investigators say the baby was sweating. they believe she was in the car
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for about three hours. she was taken to the hospital and is expected to be fine. police arrested the father for child neglect. singer susan boyle says she's been diagnosed with asperger's. it's a form of autism. boyle told a british newspaper it's a relief to have the right label for her concern. she became an overnight sensation when she sang "i dreamed a dream" on "britain's got talent" back in 2009. the arrival of inspectors at iran's heavy water plan can be seen as a positive step. but president obama was not taking a victory lap just yet when he made candid remarks at a forum yesterday. >> we have to not constantly assume that it's not possible for iran, like any country, to change over time. it may not be likely. you know, if you asked me, what is the likelihood we're able to arrive at the end state i was just describing earlier, i
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wouldn't say that it's more than 50/50. but we have to try. >> joining me now is democratic senator benn cardin. >> pleasure to be with you. >> let's talk about the president. he's putting the chances of success at about 50/50. where do you put it? >> well, it's difficult to have a lot of confidence in what iran is doing. we know that they are still proceeding with a nuclear weapons program. we now have this interim agreement. we have to make sure that it is carried out to the letter and that there's negotiations to an agreement that would eliminate iran's capacity to enrich uranium to a nuclear fuel capacity for a weapon. and that's the challenge. as the president pointed out, we're going to have to be very cautious. we certainly shouldn't ease up the pressure we have on iran
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today. >> president rouhani told his parliament today, sir, that the talks have already strengthened the economy. would that temper extremism and isolation in the long term and should that, might that be a u.s. objective here? >> well, clearly we would like to see iran become a stable country, a country that gives up its ambition to become a nuclear weapons state, a country that allows freedom for its people and allows for economic growth. our complaint is not against the people of iran. it's the way they're being governed today. and that's what we want to see changed. >> all right. let's move from that to some other international news we've been following. the vice president has returned from his six-day asian trip. of course in china, he meet with president xi. they failed to make any headway on china's new hair defense zone. that's been fueling a lot of tension in the region. do you think this is a powder keg in the region? >> i'm very concerned about it. the maritime security issues are
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critically important, not just to the countries of that region, but to all country, including the united states. these are maritime lanes that we depend on greatly for international commerce. there's been disputes over a long period of time as to the -- as to which country has sovereignty over these islands. what china did by making this unilateral declaration was certainly harmful to the stability of that region. >> okay. let's go back to the home front, sir. last week the president threw his support behind the senate's minimum wage bill. where do you put its chances of getting through the house? >> well, it's going to be a challenge to get anything through the house in this environment. they've been difficult to get through. i think it's important we recognize that working families should have a decent wage and raising the minimum wage is something that should be a
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prerequisi prerequisite. we should get that done. that shouldn't even be controversial. it helps our whole economy grow. we certainly want people who work to be able to afford their family budget. so i would hope this would be noncontroversial. n we've done it in the past. i hope we do it again. >> in fact, you've been quite vociferous about it. in your home stand of maryland, two county there is have raised their minimum wages to $11.50 an hour. we've seen this in other local governments across the country. do you think it's the only way this initiative is going to succeed, keep it local, give up on congress, and the federal increase? >> every time we've increased the minimum wage, it's helped our economy. every time. we've heard predictions it would cost jobs. it increases jobs. it increases livability, the standard of living for americans. so it's something that we should embrace. what we're trying to do is not really increase it. we're trying to adjust it so it makings up for the loss over the
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last many years. it really just brings it -- tries to bring it back to what it used to be. that should be something that we do on a bipartisan basis and get it done. >> yeah, finally before i let you go, i want to quickly ask you about health care. a week ago today, all we could talk about was the aca relaunch and how it had met that midnight deadline. give me a sense of how satisfied you are a week later on where we are now with the website. >> well, i think there's been tremendous progress made, particularly with the national exchanges. the websites are now at an adequate level so that consumers can shop and enroll in health exchanges. we need to make sure it's stronger. our challenge today is to make sure everyone who wants to buy insurance will be able to buy it through the exchanges and people are eligible for medicaid are enrolled in the program. so our challenge is now to reach people and say, come on, this is your opportunity to get affordable health coverage. we want you to look on the exchanges. we think you're going to find something you like. and we hope that more and more people will take advantage of
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this. >> all right. senator ben cardin, always a pleasure. thanks so much. >> thank you. a brutal blast of icy weather is spreading eastward, and by tonight, philadelphia, boston, and even new york could see icy snow on the ground. officials in virginia preparing for what they call an historic ice event. yikes. the weather channel's mike seidel is in leesburg, virginia. mike, it's really coming down. it looks bad out there. >> reporter: yes, it's really nice though, alex. good to be with you this afternoon. it's a dry, powdery snow. getting it off the car is no work at all. this is easy because the temperature is at 27 degrees. look at the roadway here. they did treat this earlier. when we got out here at 7:00, there wasn't a flake on the ground. it's just been dumping over the past couple of hours. they treated it, but with this kind of snowfall rate at this temperature, it sticks. it's being packed down by cars. here's the issue. temperatures up in the clouds where this stuff starts and gets manufactured, they're going to go above freezing by sundown. that's going to change this to sleet, and then freezing rain and ice, much like we've seen in
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dallas and oklahoma city and areas in arkansas. it's not going to be that much ice, but a quarter to a half an inch of ice on these limbs and trees, stressing them out over power lines is going to knock out power likely to thousands. i-81 from charlottesville to roanoke where temperatures this morning are 28. but it's raining there. so issues on the roadways. tomorrow morning around sunrise, temperatures are start to climb up above freezing. airports already in disarray, alex. we've had nearly 300 cancellations between dulles and reagan national. delay programs now in effect at all three new york city airports. also, delays in philadelphia. they have the longest average arrival days now according to the faa. just over 90 minutes. tomorrow, new york city in the morning in the city should be fine. north and west of town, watch out. in boston and west will be kind of touch and go with a little snow in the morning. but this is where we're going to have the most snow. already seven inches in o
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west virginia. just hearing i-95 southbound is shut down, exit 2 and 3 in philadelphia. major issues up into your neck of the woods. >> okay. well, it's pretty as a picture. 'tis the season. do stay safe. thanks for the heads up. more on amazon's announcement of delivery by drone. can it really work? so when coverage really counts, count on nationwide insurance. we put members first. join the nation. ♪ nationwide is on your side ♪
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i was watching those drone stories, and it kind of struck me as like the jetsons come to life. it may be nice to get your books from a drone. the thing is that drone is going to need cameras on it to guide it. and i think people are going to have real privacy problems. >> yeah, that's just one of the few problems. that is congressman adam schiff today talking about the possible fears of delivery drones. amazon certainly shocked a lot of people when they announced they plan to deliver their packages by drone. with all those pesky faa regulations, does amazon have its head in the clouds?
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joining me now, abby hagledge from "the daily beast." first of all, we talk about the program as amazon has described it. how do they intend for it to work? >> thanks for having me, alex. so basically what amazon ceo jeff bezos is proposing here, small octocopter that will essentially deliver whatever you want to your home in less than 30 minutes. you have to be within a ten-mile radius of one of amazon's 96 distribution centers. the product has to be below five pounds, which makes up 86% of amazon's merchandise. >> so that's their plan. let's go through a couple things. safety. don't these things have sharp blades on them? i mean, come on. an accident. that could be lethal. >> that's a really great point. these have eight spinning propellers that are spinning at a rapid speed and are absolutely sharp enough to slice off
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someone's finger or more, not to get too graphic. there's no human interference here with an autonomous aircraft to say little millie is sitting on the doorstep, i shouldn't land here. >> there's like a 400-foot air space over which people's private property you're supposed to be able to enjoy. that 400 feet, that goes really high. how are these drones going to work? >> exactly. the law mandates you can use up to that level where you can enjoy the fulfillment of your land. so essentially, you know, if a drone flies over your summer barbecue, can you call the cops isn't the law is murky at this point. i would say possibly yes if that's interrupting the fulfillment of your land. at some point it's going to have to go low enough to land on someone's doorstep. that's huge. there's no law that will allow that at this point. >> amazon's reaction to these regulatory issues and potential blocks, what have they been s
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saying about that? >> amazon is saying they're hopeful the federal aviation administration will have laws in place by as early as 2015. the reality is i really don't think that will be the case. they're currently working on ways to integrate these small drones into the air space, but they're only working with drones that have a remote pilot. the ones that bezos are proposing are completely autonomous. for the safety reasons we just described, that is sort of a recipe for disaster. >> yeah, okay. well, abby, thank you for bringing this to our attention. good story. with the holiday season here, many folks are in good cheer, particularly people working at toys r us. a careerblitz.com survey finds the toy store is the happiest retailer of the year. they got the highest happiness score. jcpenney coming in second. rounding out the top five, fry's, game stop, and best buy. it was 80 years ago last thursday that the u.s. ended prohibition with that in mind, "time" magazine is listing the best and worst states for drinking. the best state, missouri, because it has no open container
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laws. the worst state if you want to drink, utah, since it has the most restrictions against having a drink. now to the hottest piece of jewelry on the planet. it's a necklace kate middleton wor last week costing only $36. she bought it from a spanish retail chain that's now all sold out of that necklace. disney's "frozen" is expected to make $28 million this weekend, to just edge out "hunger games: catching fire." and those are your number ones. stick with power. stick with technology. get the new flexcare platinum from philips sonicare and save now. philips sonicare.
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less government and more freedom, less red tape, less punitive taxes, more money left in detroit. the answer to poverty and unemployment is not another government stimulus. it's simply leaving more money in the hands of those who earned it. >> and that was senator rand paul in detroit on friday, offering his plan for the troubled city's finances. a federal judge approved detroit's bankruptcy filing last week, which will make it the largest u.s. city ever to enter
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chapter nine. this tuesday, the judge will hold a hearing with some of the nation's biggest banks to deal with their stakes in the motor city. and joining me now is a reporter covering this story for "the detroit free press." what are you hearing at this point about the final reorganization plan? >> detroit emergency manager kevin orr is expected to deliver the final plan of reorganization within the next few weeks. this is called a plan of adjustment. in chapter nine, this is how you restore the city, cut the debts, and you eventually hope to exit bankruptcy. the problem is, you need a lot of creditors to sign off. so the pensioners are waiting to see the details of those cuts. >> i'll bet they are. the pension cuts certainly on the table. how likely is that to happen, and what do you think the impact is going to be if they go through with it? >> kevin orr has said pension cuts are necessary to balance the books. and judge rhodes last week did sign off on cuts. now, the judge said he's not going to approve this lightly. he's not going to allow kevin orr to aggressively cut pensions
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unless others are aggressively cut as well. we are waiting to see. pennies on the dollar was the first offer, but no one expected that to be the final offer. no retirees are going to lose their pensions altogether. the question is how significant will the cut be. >> so what is the argument that remains for those who oppose the bankruptcy filing and have they already filed appeals? >> yes, the city's largest union and the city's two pension funds, which are controlled by independent officials, have filed appeals. they hope to go straight to the sixth circuit court of appeals. a few experts believe, though, alex, that the appeals will be successful. it's just not very likely that the appeals courts will challenge the facts that were decided by the local judge. that said, pensions, whether pensions can be cut in bankruptcy, that's an issue many expect to go to the supreme court. just not sure whether it will happen in this case. >> nathan, what are people talking about in term of those cuts? you say initial offers are
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pennies on the dollar. that's not going to fly for sure. the judge is saying i'm not going to let it go to draconian cuts. are we talking 50%, 75%? what's the number that's out there? >> well, i can tell you this. general city workers average about $19,000 in their pension. police and fire average about $32,000. but they don't get social security. so you know, right now they're about 80% funded, 60% funded depending on who you ask. say that 20% was cut, it would be a 20% cut. if the 40% not funded is cut, you could have a 40% cut. it's very early to say. by early january, though, the retirees should have a good sense for what they might be looking at. >> i don't know. 40%. that sounds draconian to me. nathan, thank you so much for joining us. >> east is seeing the brutal conditions that caused trouble in the south. guys...
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it is icy and dangerous. a wintry assault now hitting the eastern seaboard. where is it hitting and how bad is it going to get? in south africa, it's a day of prayer for nelson mandela. a somber prelude to a week of tributes. and for the first time since the nuclear deal with iran, inspectors visited a reactor that's of great concern. hello, everyone. welcome to "weekends with alex witt." it's just past 1:00 p.m. here in the east. that brutal icy blast that wr k wreaked havoc out west is moving to the north. snow is already falling in the nation's capital. you can see it right there with some live pictures from the white house. the storm responsible for at least 11 deaths, and it knocked out power for hundreds of
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thousands in texas and arkansas. icy conditions grounded countless flights, 400 so far just today at dallas-ft. worth. and slick roads meant snarled traffic in the air and on the ground. >> i'm just really more scared of the other drivers than i am the road conditions. >> what am i supposed to do? >> i guess i'm in trouble. >> and by tonight, cities like philadelphia and boston could see snow on the ground. here in new york city, we have a snow alert issued for today as we give you a look at times square. a very crowded day right there in times square on this sunday. let's get to weather channel meteorologist greg postel. how bad is it going to get? >> it's going to be transiti transitionitransitio transitioning from snow to sleet to freezing rain and over to rain. let's have a look at the forecast. beginning at about 2:00 this afternoon, you can see a burst of snow moving northeast from maryland into new jersey. by 7:00 tonight, should be
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snowing in new york. perhaps philly will be on the border between snow and freezing rain and sleet. that would be that pink shade right in there. d.c. likely by then will be over to sleet and freezing rain and maybe all rain later tonight. as we move to the early morning hours, say about 6:00 in the morning, there's good news here. we're going to see some warmer air work its way back into the picture. that means that the i-95 corridor likely from d.c., trenton, philly, new york, all the way up through southern new england should be rain, wet, not icy or snow covered. so that's good news. so if you can just delay a little bit your travel plans in the morning, i think it will be a lot safer. as we move forward through the morning hours, you can see this winter storm continues to move off toward the northeast and bring heavy amounts of snow into the adirondacks and mountains of western maine. boston, by 2:00 in the afternoon tomorrow, should be rain. here are the impacts as we roll through them. this is essentially what it looks like. as you can see, it transitions
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all the way from snow to rain as we move through the afternoon, tonight, and tomorrow and this is how it's all going to end up, i think, by tomorrow. there's the rain for us. the wintry mix and the snow confined to northern new england. back to you. >> okay, dr. greg postel. thanks so much for that. this is video in from leesburg, virginia. they're expected to get some of the worst of this storm. the state has heavily prepared for it and with good reason apparently. the national weather service has issued winter storm warnings for at least 28 counties there. joining me now on the phone is laura southard from the state's emergency management. with a good day to you, how have you guys there in virginia prepared for this treacherous ice storm? >> well, the road crews have been out throughout the weekend pretreating roads as best as they are able to so that perhaps some of the snow and ice doesn't stick. but what we're finding now is the storm is really getting well underway, especially in -- along the interstate 81 corridor and going up into northern virginia. we're seeing a few more accidents, and we know the roads
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are becoming covered with snow at this point. >> yeah, so here we are in the early part of december. is this normal for the area? is this pretty severe compared to what you're used to? >> it's certainly common to have a snowstorm in early december in virginia. it's a little less common to have the ice complicating factor with it. so we've been really careful to encourage people to listen to their local forecasts so they know exactly what to expect in their communities and they can stay safe this weekend. >> okay. we wish you the best of luck getting through things and keeping the accidents to a minimum. laura southard with the virginia state management. thanks. >> thank you. overseas now and the national day of prayers and reflection underway in south africa to honor nelson mandela. millions gathering today in various houses of worship regardless of religion or race. including south africa's president, jacob zuma, who attended one event with mandela's ex-wife. >> thank you very much for
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responding to the requests we made after this unprecedented loss in our country. >> well, the tributes continuing to pile up as people arrive from all over to attend memorial services for the antiapartheid icon. >> for me being here, it's a very special moment today because nelson mandela really is that symbol of unity. he's a symbol of peace and hope. >> today's national day of prayer opens an official period of mourning that will continue all week. nbc's michelle kosinski remains in johannesburg for us. tell me about the mood there and what you're seeing from the people who are coming to lay all those beautiful flowers and notes. >> reporter: hi, alex. it is absolutely jubilant. it's difficult not to get emotional because i think that sense is really palpable. it's dark now. it's been raining. but people keep coming.
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in fact, this is more people we've seen out here since. you can see all the flowers behind me. some of these piles of flowers are almost as tall as i am. the sense is not mournful but really celebratory today. we saw many moving tributes throughout south africa. there were prayer services and gatherings. one we went to this morning had the feeling of a sort of sunday reviv revival. people standing up and freely expressing what mandela's message meant to them in a concrete sense in their lives. we talked to one woman named maria who said she was a freedom fighter her whole life. her brother died as an activist in the days of apartheid. she said she couldn't stay home and quietly reflect. she had to get out there and be with people and feel this sense of unity. >> you know, we don't mourn quiet. we need to celebrate. we need to celebrate his life.
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>> reporter: we also talked to one of mandela's closest friends and advisers. they've been friends for more than 60 years. they spent more than 20 years in prison together. he told us about some of his memories of when they were in prison. that mandela would take such good care of his fellow prisoners. he said that when others were sick, mandela would clean up after them. also, just talking to people and their personal stories out here, one little boy and his mother drove more than four hours from a distant village to be here. the little boy had drawn a picture that he wanted to leave here. and his mother said that because of mandela's work, houses were built in their village for people who had nothing and schools were built so that now kids, including her son, can have an education. alex? >> that's a great story too. you've got so many from there, michelle. very quickly, the memorial tuesday, because of the enormity of that stadium in which it's going to be held s that the one
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that is being more focused upon and also given all the world leaders that are expected to attend, that over the funeral on sunday next week? >> reporter: it does require logistical planning. however, i will say the state funeral, which is going to be big, is in a remote village, his hometown. so people are going to have to get there. that's going to be a difficult process as well. that is expected to be huge because it's really going to be the last step in this mourning process. world leaders, some of them, we don't know exactly who yet, are expected to attend that as well. but all of this has had that sense of importance, this outpouring. just standing out here, you know, these beautiful, spontaneous songs will break out. the entire crowd joins in or just walking down a street. you walk by someone and they're just singing a song about mandela to themselves. people want to be a part of this. it's going to be difficult for everybody to attend that public
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memorial on tuesday. so we're going to have to see how it all plays out. alex? >> very neat to have it be so joyful though, the celebrations. thank you, michelle kosinski. coming up, i'll be speaking with former mayor david dinkins, a friend of mandela. >> to politics. with the house and senate both heading back to d.c. tomorrow, key lawmakers are turning their focus to what can get done before adjourning for the year. that includes calls to raise the minimum wage. >> there was a time when raising the minimum wage was a bipartisan issue, and we did it regularly to protect those hard-working americans who couldn't keep up with the expenses of life. now it's become a partisan issue. fmplgts you raise the m-- >> if you raise the minimum wage, you'll have fewer opportunities. about half the people who get the minimum wage are between 16 and 24. >> also new today, iranian state
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television says inspectors from the u.n. nuclear watchdog have begun their visit to the iraq heavy water production plant. that's part of the nuclear deal iran agreed to last month. iran has denied inspectors access to that plant for years. nbc's kristen welker is at the white house for us. with another good day to you. this report is coming to us just a day after the president spoke about the nuclear deal with iran. so what did he say? >> well, alex, good afternoon from a very snowy white house. president obama spoke yesterday where he talked about essentially the fact that he doesn't believe this is a done deal. he said, look, the chances of this deal with iran actually being ultimately successful are about 50/50. he also underscored the point that, look, this is a test. according to this administration, it's a six-month deal aimed at trying to see how serious iran really is about scaling back its nuclear
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programs. the president highlighting the fact that inspectors are in iran and the significance of that. again, essentially saying this is not a done deal, but it's something that -- it's a first step that he believes needs to be taken. important to point out he was speaking to a largely israeli audience, an audience that is skeptical of this deal that feels as though it doesn't go far enough. here's a little bit more of what president obama had to say. take a listen. >> if at the end of six months it turns out we can't make a deal, we're no worse off, and in fact we have greater leverage with the international community to continue to apply sanctions and even strengthen them. if, on the other hand, we're able to get this deal done, then what we can achieve through a diplomatic resolution of this situation is frankly greater than what we could achieve with the other options that are available to us. >> so alex, the president trying to sell the deal to an israeli
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audience but also to skeptics here, lawmakers, democrats and republicans, some of them believe that there should be a new round of sanctions against iran. that is something that is being debated right now, whether or not to bring that type of legislation through congress. the white house urging lawmakers not to do that because they say it could undermine the deal. they want to give this deal a chance moving forward. alex? >> all right, kristen welker. thank you. in just a moment, david dinkins joins us with his thoughts on his dearly departed friend nelson mandela. to help you avoid surprises with your credit. good. i hate surprises. surprise! at discover, we treat you like you'd treat you. get the it card and see your fico® credit score.
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on the calendar it may not be officially winter, but don't tell that to folks in washington, d.c. look at the capitol and the white house. pretty as a picture as snow is falling. it's a little treacherous. icy conditions may be coming
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their way in washington. we know we're expecting them here in new york and north in boston, also in philadelphia. so pretty as a picture, but don't let it deceive you. we'll give you updates on weather at the bottom of the hour. meantime, more on the life and legacy of nelson mandela. not long after he was released from prison, the anti-apartheid icon made a trip here to new york city. there, the man who would become south africa's first black president, met new york's first and only black mayor. joining me now is david dinkins, the new york city mayor at that time, now a professor of public affairs at columbia university and someone i call a friend. glad to have you here. >> and i call you a friend. >> i thank you for that. we became friends when i shot my office politics interview. what comes to mind from your office, aside from this wonderful collage of pictures you have, you had that one picture with nelson mandela, a few, actually. but talk to me about pictures like that in your office and what that was like when you
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brought him to new york city back in 1990. >> well, sometimes i sit at my desk and look around at the walls and reminisce. of course, i think of madiba nelson mandela. i say to myself, by god, what a man. my chief deputy bill lynch, it was his idea that we could get nelson mandela to come first to new york before going to washington or atlanta, any place else. and he was right. we were successful. and he died recently. just the other day at the union, 1199, there was a memorial for lynch. as i was about to speak, they brought me word that nelson mandela had passed. of course, part of my remarks
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about lynch related to what a great job he had done in getting nelson mandela here. so it was a pretty emotional moment for me. i say to people that each year, because madiba's birthday is in july as is mine, each year i send a note saying happy birthday, madiba. when you're 109, i'll be 100 and we'll meet and have a drink. i won't be able to send that kind of message anymore. >> that's got to be tough. i know we talked about that, because that was something you loved doing every year so much. didn't he stay with you? >> he did. he stayed with my bride and me at gracie mansion. one of my favorite stories is that i was concerned that the small suite we had for him, that the bed was not sufficiently long.
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>> he was tall. >> yeah, let me tell you, it developed that it was sufficiently long. and then maybe two years later, must have been '92, i introduced him to bill clinton, and i looked at some photographs later and realized that the president, that is clinton, is slightly taller than nelson mandela. so that means that in my mind, he was ten feet tall. >> of course. >> that's why i was concerned. >> what was that like when you went to jfk to meet him? >> oh, it's clearly one of the greatest moments in my life. our son reminds me that it has to be second to his birth and maybe even his sister's. but it was a great moment. i and my bride, we were just enthralled as he descended the steps of that plane. he'd come from canada. we were just so moved.
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and to have him in gracie mansion, the singular thing about him is his total absence of bitterness. and all the time. because keep in mind we were with him at quiet moments, playing with our granddaughter, who was born in february of that year. he was always the same. i remind people that he was interviewed by ted koppel on "nightline." ted leaned in. he's a tough interviewer. he said, mr. mandela, about the communists, and madiba said, well, they were the only ones that helped had us, next question. >> interesting. >> and moved right ahead. >> you afforded him a ticker tape parade down the canyon of heroes, which was reserved for very few. that's like amelia earhart, john glen, jesse owens. that was extraordinary.
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did he understand the significance of that? did he get it? >> oh, yes. he was a very wise man, and he understood the significance. later when we had a gathering at yankees sta yankees stadium, it must have been 60,000, 70,000 people. i put the yankee jacket around his shoulders and the cap, and he looked out at the crowd and said, now you know who i am. i am a yankee. and that went around the world. george steinbrenner was so impressed he said, i'll pay for it. >> you know that was impressive he was going to put out for that. how about the reception in harlem? what was that like? >> it was amazing. he spoke at 125th and lenox avenue, the site from which people like malcolm x and martin luther king and many had spoken
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earlier. here's this legend, this international hero. the people went wild. our biggest job was bill lynch, whose idea it was to have him come here in the first place, and our biggest job was for bill to negotiate among the various people who wanted to be part of the program. some black nationalistiss who h been involved in the fight against apartheid and felt they deserved to be on the program. but we limited it to one or two others. it was amazing. charlie rangel, of course. it's the heart of his district. >> right. the legacy of nelson mandela. if there's one thing that comes to mind that you would like to see stay out there, his spirit remembered that way throughout the world, what would that be?
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>> well, i maintain that because of what he and the archbishop achieved, it sort of suggests that one day there will be peace in the middle east. it's because of his insistence that you don't get even with people. that's the wrong way to approach it. and he says that -- keep in mind, he had even his guardians, his prison guardians at his inauguration in seats -- in preferential seating. i think that if we the people are able to learn from him, things will be better off. peace and reconciliation could not have been achieved or even suggested during the nuremberg trialed after world war ii, but he did.
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>> well, n york city mayor david dinkins, thank you so much for taking the time to come on the show. >> you look terrific. >> well, thanks. i've been to hair and makeup. >> i'm afraid it's more than that. >> you're too kind. glad you're doing well. >> good to see you again. >> you too. thank you so much. it is a puzzling problem in u.s. schools. why can't american students keep up with the world in math class? so i tri ed depend so i last weekend. tri it really made the difference between a morning around the house and getting a little exercise. hi-ya! and i tried a baking class. one weekend can make all the difference. unlike the bargain brand, depend gives you the confidence of new fit-flex® protection. it's a smooth and comfortable fit with more lycra strands. it's our best protection. take your weekend on with a free sample at depend.com
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at a strip club. a security guard noticed that baby was sweating and was covered in vomit. so he broke into that car to save her. by the way, the dad's under arrest. police in east lansing, michigan, say they made multiple arrests during a rowdy celebration. this is the scene last night after the michigan spartans won the big ten football championship. and the world's largest airline carrier is expected to take off this week. the merger between u.s. airways and american airlines is expected to close on monday. > and those are your fast five headlines. in minutes, the latest on the storm hiding the mid-atlantic region this hour. this is a live look at capitol hill. sure looks pretty. time is also running out for more than a million americans receiving a paycheck. will washington come to their rescue? nyquil cold and flu liqus don't unstuff your nose. they don't? alka seltzer plus night fights your worst cold symptoms, plus has a decongestant. [ inhales deeply ] oh. what a relief it is.
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welcome back to "weekends with alex witt." let's get to the latest on the brutal ice storm bearing down on the eastern half of the country. we give you a beautiful live look at the white house. pretty as a picture. it is just gorgeous certainly, but you have to be concerned.
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officials telling us in nearby virginia they are preparing for what's called an historic ice event, issues storm warnings in some 28 counties. the weather channel's mike seidel is in leesburg, virginia, with more. mike, to you. >> reporter: hey, alex. look at this. it is snowing like it won't quit. about an inch an hour right now. we're approaching two inches out here in leesburg. we're about 15 miles north and west of dulles airport. we're a good 45 minutes on a good day west of washington. this is a very dry powdery snow. just take your hand and wipe it off the car. it's like confectioner's sugar. the temperature is 27 degrees. look at the road here. this road was treated earlier. but it's snowing so hard it just adds up. now it's getting compacted. the real issue is not the snow for traveling. it is an issue, but as the temperatures aloft warm up, we're going to see the snow go to sleet and then ice. we could have a significant accumulation of ice, certainly from the shenandoah valley, from roanoke up to charlottesville
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right out here to north and west of washington and baltimore. that's going to stick on these tree branches. they'll stress out and come down, like we saw recently in dallas, oklahoma, and arkansas. we're likely going to have power outages. it won't be before some time early tomorrow morning, maybe just before sunrise out here, when the temperatures get back above freezing and things start to loosen up and melt down. but a real mess from this point on through early monday morning in the d.c. metro area. already a mess at the airports. all three new york city airports under delay programs as well as philadelphia. the delays at philadelphia average arrival delays now over 90 minutes. we've already had 200 cancellations at dulles and over 75 cancellations at reagan. and likely more cancellations will be adding up at those new york city airports. so snow to sleet to freezing rain. new york city, boston, not a huge issue. monday morning rush hour should be fine in those immediate metro areas. as you get west of boston, watch out for some snow in the morning. alex, back to you in new york
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city. >> okay. thanks for the heads up. safe travels, mike. the house and senate will be back in session tomorrow, and they're only going to have a few short weeks to address major economic issues because deadlines are looming for a budget deal as well as an extension of emergency unemployment benefits. now gaining traction is the democrat's push for a minimum wage hike. joining me now is jared bernstein, former chief economist for vice president biden, also a senior fellow at the center on budget and policy priorities, and the guy i trust most with my economic questions. >> i'm going to have you blurb my next book. >> you got it. let's talk about the critics, who have a simple argument against increasing the minimum wage. they say the higher the minimum wage, the fewer employees businesses can hire. what's your response to that? >> the empirical record largely disproves such a broad, sweeping claim. that's not to say that an increase in the minimum wage doesn't lead to some cutbacks in some workers' hours.
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there could even be job loss. i think it's wrong to say you raise the minimum wage and nothing happens to workers' prospects. but we've seen time and time again with many increases over time and across different states and counties that the beneficiaries of a moderate increase in the minimum wage far outweigh any cost. so it makes sense that low-wage workers are out there on the barricades saying, raise our wages. in many ways, they know best what's right for them in this regard. >> absolutely, but should things be looked at from community, like a local cost of living get factored into this? there's a huge difference between what you can get for $7.25 an hour in little rock and here in new york city. >> i think in a sense that kind of geographic variation makes sense. because there are so many different labor markets. you and i often talk about the national economy. the national economy is just an aggregate of the locals. on the other hand, and this is why i think a national minimum
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wage of a reasonable level, the kind that's been proposed in congress makes sense. if you have one wage, one wage floor for the nation, that means no firm is at a competitive disadvantage to another firm. they all face the same wage floor. and i think that helps in a competitive framework. >> okay. the senate bill that you're referencing there calls for $10.10 an hour. what kind of a difference do you think that would make on either end, for workers and the businesses? >> well, it's very important to understand first of all that phases in over three years. so if that were passed, say, in 2014, it would go up in '14, '15, and '16 and wouldn't hit $10.10 until 2016. according to analysis, it would be very much in this range of a moderate minimum wage increase, the type that historically has lifted the pay of workers without causing the kind of unintended consequences that the opposition tends to scream
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about. >> right. i know you heard on wednesday when the president gave that pretty impassioned speech about raising the minimum wage, but his progressives say he hasn't done enough here, that it's all been talk. do you think the administration has made a substantive difference? >> look, i think any kind of -- any time you're criticizing the obama administration on their economic record, you've really got to take into account not just what they've done, but what they've tried to do. have they done enough to lower the unemployment rate to offset inequality? i don't think so. but have they tried to do the kinds of policies that would move in that direction? very much so. i'm thinking of the american jobs act. the minimum wage increase the president proposed back in the last state of the union. the fact they've been blocked along the way so many times by congress is really important if you're doing that kind of evaluation. >> and you have to make that point to so many other different topics. that's out there. look, we can't talk about all this without mentioning friday's
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jobs report. we saw unemployment fall to 7.0% for the first time since '08. best numbers in five years. what's your analysis of the report? >> well, it was a good report. sometimes we've talked about these declines in unemployment as being due to the fact that people left the labor market and gave up looking for work. when that happens, you're really not happy to see the rate go down. this was not that. you had a bunch of people coming into the job market, and they found work so that decline in the unemployment rate was largely legitimate fall off. and 7% is still too high, but we're adding right now around 200,000 jobs per month, according to the payroll survey and the numbers we got last friday. that's enough, if it continues, to slowly, graduately, moderately bring down the jobless rate and improve the economy. i'd like that to be happening more quickly. i'd like for that to have been happening a while ago. the fak we're moving in the right direction is a positive sign.
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>> we're going to leave it right there and try to take a silver lining. jared bernstein, thanks so much. >> thank you, alex. let's go to education. a new study out reveals troubling findings about the schools here in america, especially when you compare it to how the rest of the world is doing. it's based on the latest test results from the program for international student assessment. many consider this to be the world's most important exam. julia ryan wrote about these findings in her article. she joins me now. i think frightening is the word because i was very disturbed by this article, julia. the title really says it all. the american education system is apparently very pricey. it's not equal. we have the lowest scores in math. first of all, tell me about the study and its results. >> so the study is called the program for international student assessment. it's given every three years to 15-year-olds around the world. just over half a million students took this exam in 2012. outs of 34 oecd countries,
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america scores 26th in math. 17th in reading and 21 in science. >> okay. it may be average in most areas, but it did rank near the top in spending at number five. >> yes. >> are we getting most bang for our buck here? >> so this is a little troubling. the report notes that spending does not necessarily correlate to higher scores. so the united states spends between the ages of 6 and 15 $115,000 per student. to put that in some context, the slovak republic has scores similar to ours, and they only spend $53,000. >> that's extraordinary when you think about how much we're spending and what we're getting. the importance of these findings, julia, put this into perspective. what does it say about our educational system, and should we be worried about those low math scores and the way we're coming in against everybody else on pretty much every other
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barometer? >> so it is a little bit concerning, but to put it in more context, the united states has never really done well on these sorts of international assessments. since the '60s and '70s, we've scored in the middle or bottom of international rankings. in particular, our high school students do not do well in these assessments. however, in 2011, an economist at stanford found that improvements in test scores, particularly in math, do correlate to economic growth. however, the united states does outperform the predictions that you would get using that model. >> yeah, but isn't that kind of a cop-out, saying, well, the american students really haven't done so well on these tests in the past. shouldn't they be doing better? when i look at the way we scored in terms of top performers versus kids in china and shanghai, they had like 55% of their students on this test scoring in this top performer category, and we had, what, 9%? >> 9%. the oecd average is 13%. we are below, but however, comparing america with shanghai
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is a little bit of a case of comparing apples and oranges. the united states is huge. it's different socioeconomically. so these rankings are sometimes a little bit unfair. you are comparing things that are a little bit different. however, it is worth noting that in the last 50 years, u.s. education has remained relatively stagnant, but other countries, for example finland, has really improved its education system. so there is some concern that while at one point we were doing relatively well, we really haven't kept up with the international improvements in education. >> yeah, well, you make a good point. i have to say on the huge level, china's pretty huge. >> well, yes. >> we should be able to at least be somewhere comparable. 55% to 9% is abysmal. >> well, the way that china does these scores, it's just the students in shanghai. so it's sort of comparable to testing a very small pool of american students and comparing it. but there's not a score for china as an entire country. >> okay. thank you for making that point.
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it's a great article. disturbing but great. newt gingrich fires back at those who didn't like his praise for nelson mandela. that's next in the big three. every day we're working to be an even better company - and to keep our commitments. and we've made a big commitment to america. bp supports nearly 250,000 jobs here. through all of our energy operations, we invest more in the u.s. than any other place in the world. in fact, we've invested over $55 billion here in the last five years - making bp america's largest energy investor. our commitment has never been stronger.
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enjoy the go with new charmin ultra soft. it's time for the big three. today's topics, fed up, who are these people, and this week's must reads. let's bring in my panel. msnbc contributor goldie taylor, professor of political science, jason johnson, and msnbc contributor and former bush-cheney senior adviser, robert traynam. i'll go ladies first. the fed up. nbc news helped conduct a focus group of 11 cincinnati area voters who described themselves as independents. here's what they said about congress and the shutdown earlier this year. take a listen. >> i think they were selfish, not caring about themselves but hurting the people they're supposed to be in there helping and representing. >> i thought it showed a lack of concern by our leaders for the
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people that they represent. they had their own agenda. i don't think they had people's best interest at heart. >> i felt like certain people decided to shut down the government to prove a point rather than to work towards making improvements. i have no problem they disagree with the affordable care act, but they could have worked to improve it. >> you think? anyway, how fed up is middle america with washington right now? >> i think they're damn fed up. i think they ought to be. a government that is callous enough to forget about the lives of federal workers and shut down this government. those who want to cut off unemployment ben fits, those who want to cut s.n.a.p. benefits by millions of dollars. those are reasons why the congress has an approval rating, you know, in the single digits. i think that's unfortunate. >> robert, what's your reaction to what this focus group said? >> well, it's not surprising, obviously. the latest gallop poll has congress at 60%. the president is roughly at 34,
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40%, depending who you ask. the unfortunate thing is the independent, the vital center is becoming smaller an smaller and smaller and the republican party is growing in terms of numbers and the democratic party is growing in numbers. the question becomes, how can you govern when the vital center is so very small when you have a congress that legitimately is saying, i'm listening to my constituents here, and they're saying one thing but the rest of america is saying something different. what i mean by that is, when you ask the republican party in the house specifically are they representing their district, they're saying absolutely. the question becomes whether or not they can say, you know, listen, constituency, i know you think this way, but as a federal legislator, i have to go towards the middle. >> you heard the president say he believes -- he told this to chris matthews. there's a lot of republicans that have to be fed up with what's being brought by the tea party. do you think that's true? that there are a lot of republicans, elected officials, who say, this is soru because we're being hampered by
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the tea party. >> absolutely. i think if you were to ask peop speaker boehner off the boehner off the record, he would say that. if you would ask moderate republicans, he would say absolutely. that's the main reason why you saw a lot of republicans on the senate side that were very fr s frustrated with the tea party. one republican senator went off the record and said they were sold a bunch of snake oil. so it's not just republican party. it's the whole entire country that is frustrated. >> the impact, any? >> i'm in the midwest, i'm in cleveland. this is one of those weird areas where we have seen some economic improvement. you can see stimulus money working. they're redoing some bridges and main highways. but people are frustrated with the lack of leadership, they the thought obama would get a lot more done. and they're frustrated with the far right that seems obsessed with stopping the president rather than fixing problems.
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so it's a mixture here. >> i want to play a sound bite from newt gingrich. he was appraising nelson mandela on his facebook page last week and he got really nasty comments. let's play what he said. >> i was really surprised by it. calista had posted my statement on her facebook page and was amazed at some of the intensity, some of whom came back three you can four, five times repeating how angry they are. >> who are these people? >> very narrow minded minority that look at nelson mandela's life through the primp of communism. it's true that he did reach out to the communist party and it is true the com uhe nirt pathity were the only individuals looking to help mandela. but that was a very narrow minded piece of history. when he was freed back in 1991, very quickly dismissed the com u uhe nis party. so they're not looking at live as a whole. they refuse to see that.
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>> goldie, do you get surprised when you hear something like this? >> i think it's not surprising to me. you look at jesse legal hhelms strong thurman who were fighting against levying sanctions against south africa. but it was people like newt gingrich and mitch mcconnell who went against president reagan to overturn the veto. so i'm not surprised at this brand of conservatisconservatis surprised and you at how they reconstruct the history. i've heard people compare reagan to nelson mandela. or to sort of compare obama care to apartheid. i think that once we get the history right, i think a lot of truth comes out. >> 15 seconds to add anything. >> simple. they're racists.
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they're jeust raicists. people who are racists don't like to see people like machine daily la happen. we can talk political stuff, but there is always that level hostility. i'm glad leaders like gingrich won't stand for it. >> all right, guys. high speed train, the big three's must reads next. your stomach. try pepto to-go. it's pepto-bismol that fits in your pocket. relief can be yours, but your peanuts... are mine. ♪
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we're back with the must reads. goldie, you're first. >> my big three is from grio talking about mandela as a father figure. >> and black diamond. it's funny, sexy, exciting. it's everything you need to know about the modern country. a great read. >> robert, krouyours.
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>> philadelphia qinquirer, grea story on the high speed rail. great read. >> coming up next, we have met the press followed by hardball with the president. enjoy. to stretch my party budge. but when my so-called bargain brand towel made a mess of things, i switched to bounty basic. look! one sheet of bounty basic is 50% stronger than a full sheet of the bargain brand. bounty basic. the strong but affordable picker upper. a man who doesn't stand still. but jim has afib, atrial fibrillation -- an irregular heartbeat, not caused by a heart valve problem. that puts jim at a greater risk of stroke. for years, jim's medicine tied him to a monthly trip to the clinic to get his blood tested. but now, with once-a-day xarelto®, jim's on the move. jim's doctor recommended xarelto®. like warfarin, xarelto® is proven effective to reduce afib-related stroke risk. but xarelto® is the first and only once-a-day prescription blood thinner for patients with afib not caused by a heart valve problem. that doesn't require routine blood monitoring.
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this sunday, nelson mandela. a special person whose world course changed world events. >> he was a president that embodied that human beings and countries can change for the better. >> his enduring power is that he showed us there is true freedom in forgiveness. >> we'll look at mandela's life, his policy, and how he handled criticism. it's all part of his enduring legacy. my guests, tom brokaw, civil rights leader reverend jesse jackson. and harry smith talks to p